When I’m done writing, it’s time to relax and crank up some vintage vinyl with a 1973 Marantz stereo receiver and among many options, Rush's 2112 is perfect. Oh sure, I could just use iTunes but it’s just not the same. I’d rather be an analog kid than a digital man any day in pursuit of that vintage warmth.
But it’s all fun and games until the thing blows or will no longer power up. Unfortunately, regardless of great build quality, these valued vintage receivers are around 49 years old. Best Buy can’t repair one of these. Now what?
Research options on Google? Well, yeah, of course you can, and you should. Thankfully, Phoenix is a big city and there are many options when seeking out repairs. It’s impossible to list everything under our sun but I can offer my years of experience as a veteran of things vintage as well as a handful of local services that have expertise for possessions that you would rather not donate to the dumpster. And most of these have been in business for decades.
Audio/VideoFive years experience is not a decade but SpenCertified in Mesa has a five-star rating, offering full service on “pretty much anything electronic,” to quote owner Spencer Vogt. He reveals his initial goals were to build his brand and business as opposed to selling items on eBay or Amazon, which were his origins. After doing videotape to DVD transfers for many customers, he decided to become one of those rare and reliable sources in the Valley for audio repair. “We offer warranties on purchases and a warranty on repairs.” This is quite a promise as they are videotape experts. Do you remember VHS? It’s so fun and retro until the VCR turns into an actual movie monster, eating your horror movie tapes that are now vintage and pricey. “Well, we do quite a bit of VCR repairs and we ship them all over as well as internationally. They’re still far more popular than you might think,” Vogt confirms.
SpenCertified: 456 East Juanita Avenue #7, 8; Mesa, AZ 85204; 480-207-1511
Melrose TV, VCR & Stereo Repair. On Seventh Avenue, with its modest but noticeable old-school storefront, this shop is operated by a singular tech/owner named Richard Heaton. Most of the items I saw are the usual suspects such as tape decks and flat-screen TVs but there were truly some antique pieces on hand. I’m referring to old-school units that might have played the original radio broadcast of War of the Worlds. “You have to be around a long time to work on vintage audio,” Heaton says. But with typically 30 items in the queue awaiting service, you may be concerned that your repair order might also be around a long time. Reviews seem to say otherwise and it’s remarkable that since 1964, Heaton has been able to turn around repairs to customers' satisfaction.
Melrose TV, VCR & Stereo Repair: 4342 North Seventh Avenue;
Phoenix, AZ 85013; 602-264-4359
TypewritersThe concept of our love for vintage and perhaps “obsolete” products was quite well summed up by Bill Wahl, owner of Mesa Typewriter Exchange. He says, “My customers that come in for typewriters are passionate — they ‘want’ a typewriter, it’s not something they ‘need’ in today’s world.” Wahl even reveals that his customers are way more into typewriters than he is. “My customer base is diverse and all ages,” he clarifies. Opened by his grandfather in 1948, this shop has been offering sales and repair services for nearly 75 years. I was reminded of the experiences of yesteryear; a small cluttered shop with pictures of family on the wall as if you were in the owner’s house. His Ocean’s Eleven poster of the original 1960 film was a great metaphor — a visual representation of another vintage creation that was modernized (and in this case, needlessly and repeatedly). His typewriters are about $150 and up, and he’s got everything except maybe the one featured in The Shining, in which Jack Torrance typed, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Yes, I looked for it.
Mesa Typewriter Exchange: 30 South MacDonald; Mesa, AZ 85210;
480-964-3603; email: [email protected]
Clocks/WatchesWalking into Scottsdale’s The Clock Doctor is the closest thing to time literally standing still, with an astounding abundance of timepieces. Apparently, music videos have been shot within this shop, and I was expecting H.G. Wells to come out and speak to me. But the owner’s name is Tyler Gesswein, who explained to me that his grandfather Bill Gesswein has been working with timepieces since 1960. And he still hangs out at the shop from time to time. In Arizona since 1982, The Clock Doctor is renowned for repairs and restoration from the tiniest watches to grandfather clocks from all over the world. These guys have no kind of digital depression. Tyler Gesswein says, “Smartwatches have never posed a threat to our business. Everything analog seems to come back.” It’s also interesting to note that the shop doesn’t have to find parts. They can machine the parts needed on-site. This is absolutely the spot for master craft, skill, talent, and dedication. Just keep in mind to be patient. Your repair order will take some time as they have five to six months of service requests.
The Clock Doctor: 10610 North 71st Place; Scottsdale, AZ 85254; 480-951-8994
CamerasSure, your iPhone has a great camera and Instagram has cool filters, but there’s nothing like capturing images on actual film. You quite probably have a vintage camera or two left behind by a relative or perhaps you found one at a garage sale. If you want to know if it actually works, Tempe Camera is well known to be one of Arizona’s premiere places for all things in photography. First opened in 1972, it is impossible to overlook on University with its tall architecture. Unbelievably, the founder, Joe Wojcich, is still working the repair benches on which he taught himself to figure out what makes these little mechanical gizmos "pic." Tempe Camera, in business for a solid 50 years, also sells and rents top-of-the-line digital cameras and lenses. But don’t be intimidated by its pro photographer vibe — the establishment embraces beginners. Bring in your old Pentax K1000 because it would be in good hands being repaired here. Turnaround and pricing are both reasonable. And also grab some film to take photographs that can look way better than those Instagram filters you know and love.
Tempe Camera: 606 West University Drive; Tempe, AZ 85281; 480-966-6954
Musical InstrumentsM-Troniks in Chandler has been servicing musicians' repair needs for over 40 years. It was proudly pointed out to me that this music store with vintage gear experience is owned by a woman named Heidi Gadd, who is also a professional violinist. A few men have come into M-Troniks acting like a “Karen,” and asking to speak to the owner because they think the woman they're dealing with doesn’t know equipment. “I go to the back and come right back out and these type of guys are stunned that I’m the owner,” she laughs. Additionally, that last name Gadd reminds me of the legendary drummer Steve Gadd, and any relation is still being pondered. She says amusingly, “I haven’t had time to go on ancestry.com to figure it out!” Regardless, M-Troniks is known for amplifier restoration and boasts Tony Krank as their in-house tech. The founder of Krank Amplification is also an Echoplex expert and refurbishes these analog tape delays that are sent to M-Troniks from around the world. (Huh? It’s the infamous echo on the beginning of 2112 and countless other '70s albums; which is only to say, they are rare, expensive, and the definition of analog.) But aside from that, the shop can also handle other delicacies such as Leslie speakers, violins, and keyboards, the latter being considerably time-consuming. The point is, you can bring in essentially anything.
M-Troniks: 571 North Arizona Avenue; Chandler, AZ 85225; 480-461-3194
Speaking of violins, Valley of the Sun Violins is a verified source of service for beginners, collectors, and professionals who have chosen to bow toward string instruments. The Scottsdale shop opened in 2007, and owner Angelo Eftimeo adds four years of high end bow sales experience to his 15 years of working on violins. Eftimeo is easygoing and very reasonable, and does not try to upsell customers or entice them to buy strings that aren't really needed. He is happy to even do a quick verbal appraisal of that old violin you found in your grandmother’s attic. I asked him what his turnaround time is on violins on average, and he replies, “It depends on the work needed. I may have to glue woods together, and that takes an hour. But it takes 24 hours for it to set. I can’t speed up glue.” And yes, he has many beautiful violins, violas, and cellos for sale. One of interest was from 1790 France. That was when Napoleon began rising through the ranks and George Washington was our President, and it’s nearly $6,000. But don’t fret, Eftimeo has far more affordable instruments for those who don’t know the difference between a Stratocaster and a Stradivarius.
Valley of the Sun Violins: 9393 North 90th Street #109; Scottsdale, AZ 85258; 480-429-1161
Bronson Guitar Works in Old Town Scottsdale. The quaint shop is owned by John Bronson, who has 31 years of experience with all guitars, acoustic or electric, basses and tube amplifiers. Let’s not worry about reviews here. “Geddy Lee of Rush sent his bass to Fender headquarters [north Scottsdale] for repair and they actually sent it to me to repair,” Bronson recalls. He’s also worked on the acoustic Lindsey Buckingham gave to his then-partner, Stevie Nicks. Need more? How about Glen Campbell and George Benson? Needless to say, our own AZ celebs Gin Blossoms and Roger Clyne have also been served here. Turnaround time varies depending on how many instruments are in line for repair, but if you need your vintage Stratocaster fixed in a hurry, prepare to pay a rush charge.
Bronson Guitar Works: 6830 East Fifth Avenue; Scottsdale, AZ 85251;
BicyclesWith our insanely hot summer coming to an end, you may find yourself wanting to take your old two-wheeler for a spin. If it needs some TLC, roll into Rage Cycles in Scottsdale. With a solid 30 years in existence, this large shop can fix any bicycle whether it’s a valued vintage or a modern Electra. Peter Perreault has been running the business for the last 21 years or so with a unique warmth in customer service. You can have a beer and sit in the cool makeshift lounge while your bike’s specific needs are evaluated. And you can bring your dog with you as well. Rage has everything a cyclist might need, with the ability to educate a novice on accessories such as locks, helmets, and clothing. And I would also suggest inquiring about their self-proclaimed “absolutely ridiculous” Halloween bike crawl.
Rage Cycles: 6411 East Thomas Road; Scottsdale, AZ 85251; 480-968-8116
Richard Garcia; email: [email protected]; by appointment only.